It's not the venue or opponent he most wanted, but Gennady Golovkin has chosen to fight Glendale's Vanes Martirosyan May 5 at StubHub Center as the alternative to a canceled Canelo Alvarez bout, Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Tickets priced at $750, $500, $300, $200, $100 and $50, go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday at AXS.com, and the StubHub Center box office.
"Vanes Martirosyan is now the most important fight of my career. He has my respect and I am training hard to defend my titles against him," Golovkin said in a news release. "I am happy to be back on HBO and fighting at StubHub Center because they have great boxing fans. I will give my fans another big drama show."
Finalizing the Cinco de Mayo weekend bout with Martirosyan became arduous because three-belt middleweight champion Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) owes the International Boxing Federation a mandatory title defense against Russia's Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs).
Golovkin and his team argued this was a short-notice fight prompted by the withdrawal of Mexico's Alvarez after he tested positive twice for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clenbuterol in February.
The IBF decided not to sanction the May 5 bout without stripping Golovkin of the belt he won by knocking out Canada's David Lemieux in 2015.
HBO will televise the main event around 8 p.m. PDT, and the StubHub card is expected to include former four-division world champion Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez and women's unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus (32-0, nine KOs). The Gonzalez and Braekhus bouts are expected to be televised by HBO Latino.
Although the bout falls far short of the excitement generated by a Golovkin-Alvarez rematch following their September draw at T-Mobile Arena, Golovkin did pack the StubHub Center with a record overflow crowd of 9,232 by knocking out Mexico's Marco Antonio Rubio in 2014, and a victory over Martirosyan would tie Golovkin with Bernard Hopkins for a record 20 consecutive middleweight title fights without a loss.
At a news conference last week, Golovkin said he wants to remain active instead of waiting for Alvarez.
"I feel great. I've been in Big Bear [training]. I want to fight," Golovkin told reporters. "Just give me a fight. This is just a crazy situation for boxing. Cinco de Mayo is a huge date for boxing … [if there was] no date? Terrible."
A 2004 U.S. Olympian, Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) is the World Boxing Council's No. 1-ranked light-middleweight contender, but he hasn't fought since May 2016. Two recent scheduled foes, including Ishe Smith, backed away from Martirosyan in favor of greater purses in other bouts.
The California State Athletic Commission last week approved Martirosyan as a viable opponent for the power-punching Golovkin.
Martirosyan told The Times he signed for the fight mostly for the opportunity against the 36-year-old Golovkin.
"I was on the bench because of boxing politics, but was in the gym waiting and praying for this and God gave me the opportunity," said Martirosyan, who is trained in Glendale by Ronda Rousey's former coach Edmond Tarverdyan. "I'm going to take full advantage of this fight. It's not about money. It's about my boxing story and what type of fighter I am. I never back down and give 100%. This will be my best camp. I will win. I already know.
"The world will be shocked, but I've seen it happen already."
The Nevada Athletic Commission is set Wednesday to determine Alvarez's fate at a hearing in Las Vegas. Although state regulations mandate a one-year suspension for any fighter who tests positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs, there is a process to allow the suspension to be cut in half.
Timed from the first positive test, Alvarez's suspension period would end by mid-August if he receives a six-month suspension, permitting he and Golovkin to fight again one year after their first clash.
Golovkin has already further stirred the anticipation for that bout by releasing a new Jordan brand shoe commercial in which Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez is eating a steak and says, "Super-human power requires a special ingredient …," apparently a reference to Alvarez contending the Clenbuterol entered his system only because he ate contaminated meat in Mexico.
The commercial then flashes to Golovkin unloading punches on the heavy bag and in sparring, skipping rope and peppering Sanchez's mitts.